Posted by: debrakolkka | July 27, 2011

Campari and chinotto

campari and chinotto

These are 2 of my favourite things to drink in Italy. I had no idea they are both made from a fruit called chinotto. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Had I been more observant I might have noticed the picture on the chinotto bottle before now. Apparently a chinotto is an orange like fruit with a bitter taste, grown in Malta, Liguria, Tuscany, Sicily and Calabria.


Chinotto has been around since the 1950s. It looks like coke, but I think it tastes much better. It has a slightly bitter taste and is very refreshing over ice with a slice of lemon or blood orange.

a cool drink on a hot day

 Campari has been with us a lot longer. Gaspare Campari first made his dark red aperitivo in 1860 in the city of Novara. His recipe is still a  closely guarded secret. The drink was originally coloured with carmine dye derived from crushed cochineal insects. I wonder if that added a yummy insect taste as well as colour.

Campari can be served alone over ice, or mixed with soda or orange juice.

campari on ice

As well as the large bottles, it is also possible to buy Campari in individual bottles mixed with soda. The cute little bottle was designed in 1932 by Fortunato Depero. There is a non alcholic version available in small bottles too.

the iconic bottles

I love to sit at the Bar Italia in the evening, sipping my Campari and watching the world go by. Salute!



  1. and don’t forget – it’s a key ingredient in a Negroni! For those who haven’t tried one would thoroughly recommend it. simplicity itself as well;
    take 1 1/2 ounces London dry gin, 3/4 ounce Campari, 3/4 ounce Italian vermouth then Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of orange peel. Enjoy!

    • Excellent! I’ll try it. Thanks for the instructions.

  2. Nobody knows the real origin of “chinotto” and it is supposed to be a Mediterranean fruit as it is also a native in France where it is called “chinois”… which, in turn could mean that the fruit is of Chinese origin and that it may be related to kumquats… In any case, both Campari and Chinotto are very refreshing and delicious.

    • I guess it makes sense that the fruit may be related to kumquats, they are slightly bitter as well.

  3. Now I’m thirsty…

  4. I’m totally in favor of a negroni or two – another great appertivo is equal parts of Campari, soda and prosecco – with a slice of orange – very summer & very nice – tonight I had a Campari, blood orange juice & soda at Cafe Cucina in South Yarra Melbourne – very goodly

    • Lucky you! I haven’t been to Cucina for years.

  5. my that looks like a good drink.

    • You will love it George.

  6. I absolutely loved this post. The photos are gorgeous too!

  7. Where is Bar Italia? BDL or Lucca?
    I love this drink too.

    • Bar Italia is in our little piazza in Ponte a Serraglio, Bagni di Lucca.

  8. I’ve been thinking about doing a drink, and I totally think I must. Love the pictures. How special your experiences are. Love stopping by your blog, it is my daily escape to another world. 🙂

    • The pictures were taken on my balcony yesterday in the late afternoon – the Brisbane balcony, not the Italian one.

  9. Ooh, she twittered – your playing my song:) I love Campari, haven’t had it for years. I must say reading the Negroni recipe I almost expected the last instruction to be ‘light the blue touch paper and retire’ – I’m sure if I drank that there would be a resounding ‘kaboom’ or maybe just a quiet hiccup followed by snoring. How lovely it sounds to sit sipping in the bar Italia and watch the world go by.

    • You will have to join me on eday at the Bar Italia.

      • eday?

      • That would be one day. I can’t type.

  10. Salute indeed! I love these two drinks. They always seem very Italian.
    …and cute bottles.

    • You can’t drink these without thinking of Italy, can you?

  11. I agree with Anna – your posts are my escape from the ordinary! Hopefully one day I’ll be sipping one of these in the Bar Italia in Ponte a Serraglio.

    • Ellie from Masterchef has been to our apartment in Ponte a Serraglio. She was there with her family in December. I will be back in October – I can’t wait. Thank you for your comments.

  12. I had no idea that they were made from a fruit called chinotto at all but I’ve gotten to love the slight bitterness in these drinks 🙂

    • I have been drinking chinotto for nearly 40 years and I had now idea where it came from. Somehow it tastes even better now.

  13. Debra and Liz, I’ve nominated you for a “7 Links award”. Check out to see what it is all about. I don’t know how I forgot you off my initial nominations list! I love both of your posts, so you can choose to do this together or separately.

    • Thank you for the nomination. I’ll talk to Liz about it when she is back from Melbourne and we will work out what to do – big decisions!

  14. That dripping chinotto drink with the blood orange looks very appealing!! I often ordered bitter lemon whenever I walked to Villa from Bagni di Lucca on a hot day, as I find it refreshing. But, I never tried chinotto. I’m not rapt about coca cola, so, used to think chinotto was the same, because of the colour. Since you’ve explained about the drink as derived from oranges, I must try it on the next hot day…mmmm…..

    • Try a chinotto, I think you will like it. It is not really like coke.

  15. I’m not a big fan of Campari, but my Big Boy loves chinotto! The advantage of growing up surrounded by Italian neighbours! 🙂

    • Campari is an acquired taste. I didn’t like it when I tried it many years ago, but I am now a fan.

  16. heehee

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